The Central Coast Mariners have won just their third match of the campaign with a solid 3-1 win over the Western Sydney Wanderers in Gosford.

When two of the worst defensive teams in the league face off, you expect goals galore. However, that is not how the first half played out.

It was a tight and cagey affair, with both sides enjoying an even share of possession and chances.

The first real chance of the game fell the way of the Central Coast Mariners after a goal mouth scramble somehow didn’t find its way in the back of the net.

The Mariners could have opened the scoring in the 11th minute when a Jack Clisby cross found Jordan Murray at the back post, who in turn headed the ball back across the goals. Matt Simon looked likely to head it back towards goal, but a crucial intervention from Tarek Elrich saw the ball go behind for a corner.

The Mariners continued to pass the ball around, with Jem Karacan controlling the midfield for the Gosford outfit.

The Wanderers had their fair share of half chances, with former Mariner Mitchell Duke looking the most likely to provide a goal for the Wanderers.

However, it was the Mariners who broke the deadlock in the 34th minute via a Matt Simon thunderbolt. It was Simon himself who won the free kick on the edge of the box, and when he lined up there was only ever going to be one result. Running up to take the free kick similar to Brett Lee steaming in to bowl the opening ball of an Ashes series, Simon smashed the ball with tremendous power through the wall. It took a deflection which took the ball away from young Jack Greenwood on debut between the sticks for the Wanderers.

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The Mariners almost doubled their lead just four minutes later, with Matt Millar crossing in to find Jordan Murray, who glanced the ball towards the back post, missing by the narrowest of margins.

Jordan Murray was involved just after half time, with Murray earning his side a penalty in the 52nd minute. Murray and Greenwood both challenged for an aerial cross. Neither managed to get the ball, but Greenwood made contact with Murray’s face, resulting in referee Adam Kersey awarding the Mariners a penalty.

Skipper Matt Simon stepped up to convert the penalty and get his brace.

After some more control on the ball and some chances being created, the Mariners got their third of the night in the 56th minute via a Jack Clisby corner. He found Kye Rowles at the near post who glanced it goalward.

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As the game continued, the Central Coast seemed hungrier, winning the majority of the loose balls in midfield.

However, it was the Wanderers who struck next via a penalty. It was Jacob Melling who gave away a clumsy foul on Rashid Mahazi. Substitute Mark Bridge converted the penalty in emphatic fashion, leaving Adam Pearce no chance.

Things went from bad to worse just three minutes later, when Kye Rowles was shown a straight red card after a VAR review. Rowles went into a challenge winning the ball, but on his follow through made direct contact with his studs into Baumjohann’s ankle.

Following the red card, the Wanderers dominated the possession and the chances as you’d expect, with the 10-man Mariners sitting deep and holding their shape to try and hold out the Wanderers attack.

In the 89th minute Abraham Majok forced a great save out of Adam Pearce, as the home side continued to hang on to their two-goal advantage.

The Mariners managed to hold on to their lead, winning the match 3-1.

The result sees the Alen Stajcic rebuild continue on the Central Coast, with the expected announcement that Stajcic will stay on in a full-time capacity for the next three years.

 

Central Coast Mariners 3 (Simon 34’ 52’, Rowles 56’)

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Bridge 67’ Pen))

 

Central Coast Stadium

Crowd: 5,059

 

Referee: Adam Kersey

Assistant Referees: Lance Greenfield & James Cleal

Fourth Official: Adrian Arndt

VAR Official: Stephen Lucas

 

Central Coast Mariners: Adam PEARCE (GK), Matt MILLAR, Sam GRAHAM, Kye ROWLES, Jack CLISBY, Jacob MELLING, Jem KARACAN (Tom HIARIEJ 67’), Aiden O’NEILL, Andrew HOOLE (Peter KEKERIS 90+2), Jordan MURRAY, Matt SIMON (c) (Dylan RUIZ-DIAZ 90+4)

Unused subs: Ben KENNEDY (GK), Lewis MILLAR

Western Sydney Wanderers: Jack GREENWOOD (GK), Bruce KAMAU, Brenden HAMILL (C), Tarek ELRICH (Keanu BACCUS 63’), Raul LLORENTE, Giancarlo GILLIFUOCO, Rashid MAHAZI, Alex BAUMJOHANN, Mitchell DUKE (Abraham MAJOK 63’), Rolieny BONEVACIA, Oriol RIERA (Mark BRIDGE 63’)

Unused subs: Oliver KALAC (GK), Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS

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Football writer and radio presenter. Loves everything football (well, except Italian's diving since '06).